2007-07-08: Killers In Their Sensitivities

Starring:

Mara_icon.gif Nathan_icon.gif Sylar_icon.gif

Summary: Nathan asks Mara her opinion of the whys and hows of the ways killers pick their victims. I'm not going to spoil anything, but there's a graceful segue.

Date It Happened: July 8, 2007

Killers In Their Sensitivities


Midtown East

Today must be special.

It isn't, but it looks like it must be. After all, very rarely does Mara Damaris actually don her Power Suit(TM). An aubergine ensemble - blazer, knee-length skirt, matching heels. A black stockings and a silk blouse with ruffled sleeves and a high collar that buttons up nearly to her chin accents the deep purple well. She even bothered with makeup. Eyeshadow and lipstick in shades of purple, even mascara and eyeliner. To top it all off, her hair is swept up into a tight bun and she's even carrying a briefcase.

Stepping out of the Fly By Night just before Senate Hopeful Nathan Petrelli, Mara retrieves the sunglasses that were hanging from the pocket of her blazer and puts them on, letting the tinted and mirror-finished lenses shield her hazel-green eyes from the sun. This was totally a business lunch. Totally.

For all intents and purposes, it had better have been a business lunch! Nathan, in his usual suit that doesn't imply so much a special day as it does a general week day, follows Mara out of the bar in the late afternoon, hands in his jacket pockets and looking somewhat relaxed. Which is more than he can say for his usual demeanor of late - campaigning, it's stressful work. "Need a car ride home?" he asks of Mara. Not a taxi cab, obviously, but what's the point of having money when you don't have a few sleek black cars to spare.

"I'd rather walk for a bit, if that's all right with you?" Mara tilts her head to one side, dark brows arching over the frames of her sunglasses. "It's a nice day." She smiles faintly and shrugs. "Don't have too many of them, you know?" There's that depressed tone of voice that she may or may not have promised him she'd stop with.

Then they walk. Nathan nods, glancing down the length of the street, letting her mostly lead the way. Since the other place burned down, he doesn't have a nice aerial memory of the directions from the this particular bar. Her morose tone, also, doesn't escape him. "You're not gonna get a nice day any time soon if you don't cut yourself a break now and then," he chastises.

"I cut myself a break," Mara argues. "Absolutely, I do. I just…" At least the refuting keeps her mind off of the reason she sounded upset in the first place. "If you hadn't noticed, I stuck to soda in there. I'm being a very good girl." Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mara chooses to head toward Midtown West. Figures she would want to walk past what's left of her old apartment today.

"I noticed. Gold star," Nathan says, and it's only half sarcastic, nor does it come off as harshly as it could. Stones, glass houses, and all that. If he notices the slight detour, he doesn't point it out. That's the point of a nice day, damnit. He pauses, trying to think of how to word what he wants to ask, before stating: "I need your professional opinion on something." Maybe stated with a little irony.

That stops the woman in her tracks. "Professional in what sense?" Some days, Mara isn't sure she can count herself as a professional anything. "Never mind. What's your question?" Nathan Petrelli's asking for her advice. This should be good.

It's probably a good thing she 'never mind'd that away. Nathan would rather not spell out her expertise at being a hunted woman. "How do you think a man with the ability to make people do whatever he wants them to do, just by knowing their name, goes about targeting someone he wants to kill?" There. Nothing wrong with plainly stating the dilemma. His voice lowers so that his words can get carried away by traffic and general outdoor noise, but enough so that Mara can hear him.

Mara rests one hand on her hip and leans as she thinks. "However he wants to, I suspect. But if he's done this before, you need to analyse past victims. Figure out what caused him to choose them." From the inner pocket of her blazer, Mika begins to sing 'Grace Kelly.' (Do I attract you? Do I repulse you with my queasy smile?) "Maybe they were all born the same year, or month." Mara casually works open the buttons of her suitcoat with one hand and then reaches into her pocket with the other. (Am I too dirty? Am I too flirty? Do I like what you like?) "Could be they have something in common with someone from his past." (I could be wholesome, I could be loathsome. Just, I'm a little bit shy.) "There's a lot of different factors that influence how a killer chooses his victims." (Why don't you like me? Why don't you like me without making me try?) She peers quizzically at the unfamiliar number and presses 'Send' on the BlackBerry to answer the call, but finishes her thought before she brings the phone close enough to speak. "Maybe he likes blondes." She gives a shrug of her shoulders and brings the mobile to her ear to answer. "Damaris."

"Maybe he likes brunettes."

The number may be unfamiliar, but Mara will never mistake that voice. "Gray." Her complexion almost matches the image of the colour conjured by the man's name. Sunglasses are perched on top of her head with one hand as she looks about frantically.

There. Across the street. It's him.

"Oh my God."

"Yes, that's right," the killer responds to her exclamation into the phone, his eyes meeting Mara's across the street. He's dressed in his usual clothes: dark blue jeans, and black collared shirt. He's foregone his jacket, but after all, it is summer. His hand is near his ear, no doubt holding the phone he's using to talk to the detective from across the street. "Did you miss me? After all, I'm sure you were just dying to see me, detective."

Nathan doesn't need to listen to what's being said into the phone, out of the phone. The name and Mara's expression is enough, and Nathan says nothing, watching her carefully. Then, he glances, following her gaze across the road, and his hand goes out to grip her arm - perhaps so that he can pull her in the direction for safety. But he pauses. What's safer than a public road? Besides the sky, of course.

He's so close. All either of them would have to do is cross the street. That's all it would take. And for one, it would take less effort than the other. Nathan's hand on her arm makes Mara jump. Her instinct is to step closer. Maybe throw herself into his arms and scream for him to shoot them off into the sky. Away from here. Away from him. But she doesn't. Admirably, she stands her ground, phone still to her ear so she can communicate with the killer without needing to be closer to him. "Did you have a nice vacation, Gabriel?" Her eyes fix on his, unflinching. Or just not daring to flinch. Don't blink, Mara. Blink and you're dead.

"Oh, it wasn't too bad," the killer responds, tilting his head slightly as he watches the detective from across the street. "I'm only here to give you a message," he says, raising a hand slightly and pointing it in her direction. It's not much, just a nudge— but it is enough to force her back at least a foot, maybe two. "I'm watching you," he says, a smile slowly spreading across his face. A bus turns onto fifth avenue, heading for them, and Sylar glances at it out of the corner of his eye. "Oh, and detective," he says into the phone, the smile on his face spreading. The bus passes in front of him, obscuring him from view. "Be seeing you."

Click.

And when the bus drives by, the killer is gone.

Nathan's not sure who to watch. Sylar or Mara. The killer gets his peripheral attention, but when Mara seems to be knocked back and out of his grip… perhaps to collapse or— no, he knows better. The urge to take off - with Mara, without Mara - is a base instinct, only hindered by the fact that cars and people are all around and pressing close. His hand reaches out again. "Hang up, let's go," he says, though whether he's heard or not is up for debate.

Only clenching her teeth keeps her jaw and lower lip from trembling as Mara watches the killer's hand come up. From her rigid stance, and the day's choice of shoes, she stumbles backward stiffly from the nudge, nearly toppling over. That's what happens when you lock your knees like that! The angry scarlet 'End' button is hammered by the detective's thumb as she shoves the phone back into her blazer. He doesn't have to tell her twice. Still, for a moment… she's simply frozen.

He could still be watching her. He probably still is. Standing there. Invisible. Waiting to see her panic. She should stand her ground. Stand tall. Calmly walk away as though the last two or three minutes (eternity) simply never happened. Logic tells her that he's just standing there on the other side of the road, watching for her to give him exactly what he wants.

Let him watch.

Mara grabs Nathan's hand and bolts off down the sidewalk. Away. Away. Away from here. Find an alley. Darkness. Somewhere secluded. Have to get out of here. Have to get out of sight. Have to run. Have to flee.

Have to fly.

He runs with her, there's no question there. If there's any instinct his ability has leant him, it's the one to retreat. But Nathan's hand grips Mara's hard when she first dives for a dark alley, and he forces their path around a corner, a road leading to a parking lot between two tall buildings with zero foot traffic. Not darker, but more unseen, the cover of buildings hiding them before people can even notice.

It kills Nathan that Gray could very well be somewhere else, perhaps still standing on that spot they had seen him last, but the idea of where he could be is a fuel for paranoia.

She knows the routine and Nathan offers no warning, just gripping her around her waist and doing what he does best. Disappearing into the sky, the safest place he can take her.

Continued in Never Not

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